The Hamas terror organization on Friday praised the perpetrators of a bombing in the West Bank that claimed the life of a 17-year-old Israeli girl and seriously injured her father and brother.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, and Israeli officials have yet to indicate who could have been behind the deadly attack.
Hamas in a statement said the bomb attack was “proof of the vitality and bravery of the Palestinian people, and of the fact that it will not surrender to the crimes and terrorism of the occupation.”
The group noted that it came on the 50th anniversary of the torching of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and said it showed that “our people have not abandoned and will not abandon the Al-Aqsa Mosque even for a day, whoever the victims may be.”
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, in his Friday sermon in the Gaza Strip, called the killing “a heroic attack,” though he claimed ignorance as to who was responsible.
But it “shows that the default state in the West Bank is one of resistance, despite what our residents suffer there. The West Bank has strong people who are no less faithful and steadfast than their brethren in Gaza,” he said.
Gaza’s second largest terror group, Islamic Jihad, said the attack was “a natural response to the actions of occupation forces and settler gangs against the Palestinian people.” It said “resistance lives and is expanding… will continue to escalate as long as the aggression against our people continues.”
The Friday morning explosion occurred at the Bubin spring — a popular hiking spot — outside the central West Bank settlement of Dolev, approximately 10 kilometers east of the city of Modiin.
Rina Shnerb was pronounced dead at the scene, while her father Eitan, a rabbi in Lod, and brother Dvir, 19, were taken by military helicopter to a Jerusalem hospital for treatment. Both were said to be in serious condition.
Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Ronen Manelis said Friday the army considered the blast to be a “serious terror attack.”
The army said an improvised explosive device was used in the attack, but it was not immediately clear if the bomb was thrown at the family or if it had been planted earlier and was triggered when the family approached it.
Security services were reportedly tracking a car that fled the scene shortly after the explosion. “IDF soldiers are searching the area,” the military said in a statement.
Manelis said the IDF did not yet know the identities of the culprits or if they belonged to an established terror group or were acting alone.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, said he was receiving constant updates on the search effort and would meet soon with the commanders of the country’s security forces.
He said: “Security force are in pursuit of the vile terrorists. We will reach them. Our long arm will pay them their dues.”
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.